By now, everyone knows that AG Bob McDonnell’s legal opinion declaring Governor Tim Kaine’s Executive Order No. 1, which expanded Virginia’s nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation, to be unconstitutional. You can find discussions of this opinion on just about any of the blogs listed in my blogroll so I’m not going to beat that horse. What concerns me is how did we get here? That is, how did Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for AG, lost by a mere 323 votes, out of 1,943,250 votes cast. On Election night, Deeds was down by some 3,000 votes. After a recount, he gained a recount, he picked up some 2,700 votes. But in Norfolk, he picked up only eight votes and I understand all of those were from provisional ballots. Why so few? Norfolk uses Diebold voting machines so there is nothing to recount.
As a Certified Public Accountant, I find the whole idea of voting without an audit trail to be ludicrous. Diebold makes ATM machines – and you can best believe there is an audit trail there. Audit trails are designed for a reason: to allow subsequent verification of the numbers provided. So why no audit trail in voting machines? Unless you are trying to manipulate elections, there is no excuse for not having them. I’m computer literate enough to know just how easy it would be to change the source code (which no one has access to except Diebold) to accomplish this. Verified voting is something that the greatest democracy in the world should have had without us having to ask for it. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
HB1243 was offered as a solution. This bill was to provide a pilot program for auditing voting records on these machines. But the bill has been deferred to 2007. How is that possible? Is there anything more important than the integrity of the voting process?
You might wonder if there is any evidence that voting machines have been tampered with. In the last election, there were reports that machines in Norfolk were incorrectly recording people’s votes. Across the city, reports came in that people pressed the screen for one candidate and when the summary screen came up, another candidate’s name was shown. While I didn’t see it with my own eyes (I personally voted on a paper ballot), I did hear the complaints. I was at the Rosemont precinct when one voter came out and said that he had tried to vote for Sherry Battle and that Tom Moss’ name came up. He said he went back thru three times with the same result. As expected, Battle tried to sue about this. (This story, by the way, was the only thing I saw in the Pilot about this issue.)
So no recount in Norfolk. And we got McDonnell issuing opinions that say that discrimination is OK.>
What a wonderful day in the neighborhood.
UPDATE: Here is a pretty good analysis of the McDonnell decision.